Day Trip to Kilkenny

We decided to take to the rails this weekend for a day trip to Kilkenny.  
I knew something was up as we boarded the train and I saw this guy decked out in a yellow and black cap toting a garbage bag full of merchandise.  This weekend, Kilkenny would take on Tipperary in the GAA All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship!
We stopped at Butler's Chocolate Cafe in Dublin's Heuston Station before hopping aboard the train.  I was excited to learn that Butler's offers a free truffle with every coffee purchase.  That made my day.
We arrived in Kilkenny and the town was awash in gold and black.  The residents and businesses really support their team.
We headed straight for Kilkenny Castle, one of the major attractions in the area.  This Norman castle was build in the 12th century and was impressive inside and out.
I liked this jaunty statue proudly posing near the rose garden.

Kilkenny is known for crafts so we decided to pop in to the Kilkenny Design Craft Centre for a look around. The Craft Centre is right across the street from the castle so there was not excuse not to stop by.
We discovered a garden and the leaf covered Butler House through a passageway at the back of the Design Centre.

We especially liked these stones that doubled as seating.
We took a stroll along High Street and saw more Kilkenny pride in the black and gold.
We stopped at a local bakery called The Pantry for some sweet treats to take home for later.  The apple and almond filled tarts were very delicious and filling -- yum!
We stopped at the Terrace Kitchen at the Rivercourt Hotel for lunch.  Carvery seems to be a popular weekend meal in Ireland.  Terrace Kitchen had both ham and turkey on offer and in copious amounts!
Our next stop was St. Canice's Cathedral and Round Tower at the end of High Street.  The tower was built in the 9th century and is only one of two such structures in Ireland that tourists can climb.
We felt up to the challenge, paid our 3 euro for the privilege and started to tackle the very steep ladders to get to the top.
The tower got narrower and narrower as we proceeded up the 120+ steps.  At the top of the tower, the original stone steps are still present.
We soon emerged onto the viewing platform and enjoyed sweeping views of the town.
Sights included the Smithwick's brewery which surrounds the historic St. Francis Abbey brewery (far left of the picture below).
Once again, we saw local pride with black and gold flags waving on almost every lawn nearby.  Go Cats!
Phew!  We made it back to the bottom without incident.  It was an exhilarating climb and highly recommended.
We walked a short distance to the Black Abbey, a lovely church erected in 1225.  One theory about the name is that it's due to an outbreak of plague that passed through the area hundreds of years ago.
Back in town, a local band was playing to raise money for charity.
We did some window shopping and I was impressed by this hurling cake (complete with Kilkenny Cat) created by Keogh's Model Bakery.
Our sweet tooth was definitely tickled so we decided to stop at Mocha Cafe on High Street for a cappuccino sprinkled with chocolate.  We also tried a caramel square.  It was tough to limit ourselves to just one treat since everything looked amazing.  Mocha Cafe is situated upstairs in a repurposed house and was a lovely spot to have a hot drink and enjoy the afternoon.
Our final stop was the Left Bank.  I was tipped off by @kilkenny on Twitter that the Swingin' Bluecats would be playing from 4-6 pm.  Perfect!  The band was amazing and we hung out to listen and sip a pint of Smithwick's.
From our seat just inside the Left Bank's large windows, we could see more historic buildings decked out to support the Kilkenny Cats.
The last thing we saw as we trotted back to the train station was a rather intimidating looking cat wielding a hurley on the rooftop of a building along the river.  

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Sidewalk Safari: Day Trip to Kilkenny
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